Refund on hearing fees
At the time of filing a pre-trial check list (listing questionnaire) or where the court fixes the trial date or trial week without the need for a pre-trial check list, in addition to the listing fee (currently £110) it is necessary to pay a hearing fee (currently £1,090 for a multi-track matter and £545 for a fast-track matter).
The Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2011 provides at 2.3, as did previous versions, that:
“Where a case is on the multi-track or fast track and, after a hearing date has been fixed, the court receives notice in writing from the party who paid the hearing fee that the case has been settled or discontinued then the following percentages of the hearing fee will be refunded:
(i) 100% if the court is notified more than 28 days before the hearing;
(ii) 75% if the court is notified between 15 and 28 days before the hearing;
(iii) 50% if the court is notified between 7 and 14 days before the hearing.”
At least 80% of the bills of costs I see claim the full hearing fee even where the matter has settled 7 or more days pre-hearing.
I had always assumed this was a little wheeze on the part of claimant lawyers. They would reclaim the fee from the court and then try to recover the fee from the defendant.
However, I was recently asked to review Points of Dispute prepared by another Costs Lawyer. Despite the matter clearly settling at a stage where a refund was available, the point had not been taken. I’m therefore left with the impression that inclusion of this item by some law costs draftsmen is due to ignorance.
On the basis that everyone working in legal costs reads the Legal Costs Blog, there is now no excuse for ignorance or dishonesty. I will treat the next unjustified claim for a hearing fee as tantamount to fraud.